Wednesday, February 22, 2006

No charges against Western Standard for Mohammed cartoons.

Canada: Excellent, I was worried the officials were going to be politically correct as they tend to be up there against the magazine. Not that the local Muslim groups won't keep trying to change the law.

CALGARY - Local Muslims are disappointed the Crown prosecutor's office has recommended no criminal charges be laid against two publications that printed cartoons they find offensive. "I told them, I disagree with you," said Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. Earlier this month, the Western Standard and the Jewish Free Press printed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that initially ran in a Danish newspaper and led to riots and protests around the world. Gordon Wong, Calgary's chief Crown prosecutor, said the Criminal Code requires there be an intent to incite hatred against a specific group, and his office had determined there was no intent in this case. "The intent was to debate the issue within the articles. That's different than inciting hatred," Wong said Tuesday. After the cartoons ran, the Muslim Council of Calgary complained to police. Soharwardy's group has also lodged a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which has yet to decide if it will accept the case. Wong, Greg Lepp, head of the province's special prosecutions unit, and police Chief Jack Beaton met with representatives of the city's Muslim community Tuesday to explain the decision. "We thought it was important we try to explain our decision-making and receive any sort of feedback, communication, questions from the community leaders that we met with, and try to alleviate that," Wong said. Soharwardy said the community is still considering a civil lawsuit against those who published the cartoon. As well, it plans to begin lobbying for legislative changes so that offensive remarks or depictions of any religious figure are considered a crime.

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